Apple and Samsung settle seven-year-long patent fight over copying the iPhone

Apple and Samsung have finally put an end to their long-running patent battle whose central question was whether Samsung copied the iPhone. In a court filing today, Judge Lucy Koh said the two companies had informed her that they had reached a settlement. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

The patent battle started in 2011 and initially resulted in a $1 billion ruling in Apple’s favor. But it didn’t end there. A series of appeals pushed the dispute to the Supreme Court and back, as the companies continually rehashed which patents were infringed and, more recently, exactly how much Samsung owes Apple because of the infringement.

The case revolved around a number of design and utility patents for basic functions of a smartphone, like tap to zoom and the home screen app grid. But while the fight was hashed out using specific patents, the battle was ultimately about whether Samsung copied Apple in the early days of smartphones to gain an edge. The jury decided that, in many ways, it had.

Most recently, the verdict had been whittled down to $539 million for Apple. Samsung filed to appeal that earlier this month. But the two companies were able to reach an agreement before it could be litigated again.

Apple declined to give terms of the settlement and pointed to a statement it made in May, when the case was last ruled on:

We believe deeply in the value of design, and our teams work tirelessly to create innovative products that delight our customers. This case has always been about more than money. Apple ignited the smartphone revolution with iPhone and it is a fact that Samsung blatantly copied our design. It is important that we continue to protect the hard work and innovation of so many people at Apple.

We’re grateful to the jury for their service and pleased they agree that Samsung should pay for copying our products.

Samsung declined to comment.

It’s not entirely clear why, after all these years, this case is finally coming to a close now. As Apple points out, money was hardly the issue here — and really, the amounts being discussed never amounted to anything substantial for either company. It’s seemed more like neither company was willing to break over the years and put an end to such a symbolically important battle. Perhaps, so many years (and some leadership changes) later, they no longer cared enough to see this through to the bitter end.

Apple and Samsung had one other major patent battle, which was first decided in 2014 but didn’t end until last year. In that case, Apple won $120 million over violations of its slide-to-unlock patent and several others. The two companies also had patent fights going internationally, but they agreed to drop those lawsuits back in 2014.

With both of these cases wrapped up, the seemingly endless, occasionally dramatic, and often extremely technical battle between these two smartphones giants is finally, officially over. At least until the next one.

Comments

Well it’s no fun not knowing what the settlement was. I don’t know why they are keeping the most crucial part private.

Because one or the other would be embarrassed. Since Samsung is unlikely to settle for an amount more than the existing judgment, the embarrassed party is probably Apple who is getting a lot less.

I would imagine that a zero cash settlement and instead an at-or-near-cost purchase agreement on OLEDs would be a mammoth win for Apple. It doesn’t really take much for Apple to come out ahead here.

Samsung Display is a separate entity to the one being sued.

They all answer to the same holding company that pulls all the strings.

This makes no sense to me. After seven years worth of back and forth, and Apple being 500+ mil in the lead, they are going to take a settlement for ‘at part costs’?
And yes. they are all owned by Samsung, but that is not how they do business. With your realm of thinking I could just as easily say that Samsung decided to give them tanks and missile launchers for payment. Cause hey….Samsung owns that also.
Samsung divisions operate separate from each other. Samsung mobile does not buySamsung displays/memory/soc at a discount. They ‘bid’ their parts to mobile just like everyone else.

I have no knowledge that they did something like this. I just know that Samsung is taking advantage of them on the price of the OLED and charging a rate far higher than they’re selling internally to the Electronics cost center. That is exactly how they’re doing business with their internal customers vs Apple today. Which is charging cost to one and over 3x that rate to Apple.

And… forget the details anyway. I was replying to the assertation that Apple should be "embarrassed" here – as if they lost because of cash amounts. I’m merely stating, there’s ways to walk away with 0 dollars and still have gotten a good deal.

Well considering Apple has had multiple wins, why would you think they’d settle for less? I’m sure they’ve done very well either through monetary compensation, access to patent licensing, something that helps their component business or some arrangement with cloud services or something else. I very much doubt Apple is walking away with their tail between their legs, especially then it was only weeks ago that the courts massively increased Samsungs fines in their favour.

Because that’s what a settlement is for? The judgement is for a set amount so Samsung would owe that much at a maximum. But both sides have already spent hundreds of millions on legal fees so it makes sense for Apple to take a smaller payment in return for Samsung agreeing to stop the endless court battles.

They likely settled for significantly less than the judgement. My guess it was an amount where both companies are better off compared to wasting more time and money in court so probably still a nine figure sum but likely much lower than the judgement.

You’re assuming the settlement was even a cash one. Again as I noted, it could be for patent licensing, access to components or many other things that companies often make settlements on that have huge benefits to one or both parties. Things that are valuable to Apple (and possibly Samsung) that aren’t necessarily monetary, in which case Apple may not consider the settlement a downgrade or compromise. We’ve seen similar things in the past.

Without the terms we have absolutely nothing to go on as to whether Apple or Samsung gave away less or more.

And yet you still guys still post a phone an older galaxy s/note phone with the app drawer open, and not even the actual home screen. Gotta meet that apple agenda somehow right?

Or they could just post an image of a Galaxy S"1" (each provider had their own name, Sprint’s was Epic 4G or something to that effect) with an older iPhone next to it.

True story, I bought an Epic because 1) UI looked reasonably close to an iPhone (more so than the HTC Evo anyway) 2) had a slide out keyboard. I didn’t realize how bad of a call relying on 1 was, but 2 still remained nice.

They’re actually posting a newer Samsung phone than the one in question from 2011, which only had a 4 inch screen, compared to either a 5s from 2013 or an SE from 2016, so neither phone is from the right time period. Not sure how you get an "apple agenda" from this. Both sides are equally misrepresented.

He’s talking about the home screen. On the Android phone that is not the default home screen shown. That is the app drawer. Why would you take a picture of one device on the home screen while the other on a sub screen? To make them seem more alike. Hence the bias.

What "bias"? They’ve been found guilty of copying in multiple courts. Can we just admit that they copied and move on without crying about graphics in an article?

Meh. Copying trivial features in a Western court full of fanboy jurors. Apple didn’t get their desired outcome. Hence, capitulation and settlement.

Wait, wait, wait. Are you honestly insinuating that a Western jury that was presiding over this case were doing so in such a way that they were "fanboys." Not because the Samsung Galaxy S"1" was a blatant rip off of the first iPhone. I mean come on, we have really jumped the shark in these comments. This is ridiculous.

Where else in the world did Samsung lose? It hometown cooking.

Hometown?? Where exactly do you think Apple is from? Wow!

Sorry, thought this was another case in East Texas. I haven’t really been following it.

Referees always favor the home team.

Oh for fucks sake. This is sad for you.

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